After taking the race lead on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under, Richie Porte and his BMC Racing team played out a strategy of containment on stage 3 to Victor Harbor, with the emphasis on safety. A late crash, close to Porte at the front of the bunch, almost spoiled the day but in the end the Australian could tick another day off as he seeks his maiden race title.
"It was fine today. The team obviously played a big role in that. It's just nice to get through a stage like that. It was quite nervous and stressful all day so it's another step closer to the finish. I don't think you see the wind on television but if there's any wind it makes for a stressful day and there's just so much to lose on a stage like this, and a lot to gain,” Porte said at the finish.
The crash left second placed Gorka Izagirre (Movistar Team) on the tarmac, highlighting the dangerous nature often associated with early season sprints.
“I was pretty close to the crash and even at the front of the bunch where the crash happened. It was business as normal. Obviously BMC Racing Team have defended a lot of jerseys over the years so when you've got experienced guys like Amaël Moinard and Fran Ventoso it's not a big deal, but Miles Scotson also was incredible today. We'll see how tomorrow is and get through that and then it's Willunga.”
Porte’s 20-second lead over Izagirre, who finished the stage but later went to hospital for checks, should be enough to see the BMC leader over the line, but Willunga Hill remains a major obstacle and the likes of Esteban Chaves and his Orica-Scott team will look to exploit any weakness BMC reveal.
Stage 3 was won by Orica’s sprinter Caleb Ewan, but stage 4 to Campbelltown will also be a test of BMC’s mettle.
“You don't want to be starting the downhill to the gorge tomorrow anywhere but the front. Tomorrow's not an easy stage and I think you saw today that if you're not focused for one second, big crashes can happen like that."
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